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NASCAR: Coble's Racing Notes

NASCAR not alone in struggling to put fans in the grandstands

Posted: July 10, 2012 - 8:50am

Much like its competition in stick and ball sports, NASCAR is having problems putting fans in the seats.

According to information found in security filings and reported by the Charlotte Observer, ticket sales are down by 38 percent compared to five years ago.

International Speedway Corp., which owns or operates 11 tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, has lost nearly 40 percent of its ticket revenues in the past five years.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns seven tracks, has lost more than 25 percent of its ticket revenues.

The Dover International Speedway has lost 60 percent of its ticket revenue.

“Things aren’t perfect and easy,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said. “But a lot of people would like our problem.”

Stock car racing isn’t the only one with declining ticket sales. Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL and NHL all have reported declines in the past five years as well.

U.S. Army drops Newman’s No. 39

The U.S. Army will not renew its sponsorship of Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet at Stewart-Haas racing, the race team announced Tuesday.

The House Appropriations Committee voted two months ago to strip the military of its $80 million sports advertising budget. The loss of sponsorships likely will affect Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s relationship with the National Guard and Aric Almirola’s deal with the U.S. Air Force.

KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (July 10, 2012) – The U.S. Army has decided not to renew its sponsorship with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2013 as a primary sponsor of the No. 39 Chevrolet driven by Ryan Newman due to a reallocation of its marketing budget that will not include a presence in NASCAR.

The Army was the primary sponsor for Newman in 12 races this year.

“The U.S. Army has been a great partner of Stewart-Haas Racing since the team’s inception,” said Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing. “It has been a mutually beneficial relationship, with the U.S. Army introducing training regimens that improved our pit crews while instilling the mental, physical and emotional strength of the U.S. Army Soldier in all of us. We remain very proud of our representation of the U.S. Army and its brave Soldiers who are 100 percent committed to our country. We will continue to activate on behalf of the U.S. Army for the rest of 2012, while also growing our other dynamic partnerships at Stewart-Haas Racing for the future.”

Stewart nominated for ESPY

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was nominated for a 2012 ESPY Award for “Best Championship Performance” and “Best Driver.”

Stewart won last year’s Chase for the Championship by winning five of the 10 races in the playoffs.

Eli Manning, LeBron James, hockey’s Jonathan Quick and World Series MVP David Freese were nominated with Stewart in the “Best Championship Performance.”

He will go against IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel and drag racer Del Worsham for “Best Driver.”

The winner will be announced Wednesday night.

Hornish’s wild ride

Sam Hornish’s cell phone vibrated without an answer the first time Penske Racing desperately tried to find him Saturday afternoon. He was on the “Speed Center” set taping a television show, so he let it continue to vibrate without an answer.

After the show was done, he was supposed to tape another segment for an upcoming show. That’s when he checked his messages, to set off one of the most-frantic afternoons of the former IndyCar Series champion’s life.

Not only did Hornish have to hurry to the airport, a crewman had to go the team’s shop in Mooresville, N.C., to bring a fire suit to the airplane. Hornish flew to Daytona Beach for the Coke Zero 400 and was getting buckled into the car as the starting grid rolled off pit road.

He missed the first warm-up lap, but was able to take the green flag with everyone else in the race.

“A lot of things were going through my mind because I wasn’t prepared to be able to race,” Hornish said. “But I guess in these circumstances, or at any point in time, I guess I should always be prepared to race.”

Hornish was quickly summoned to Florida after A.J. Allmendinger was suspended for failing a drug test. Car owner Roger Penske decided Monday he plans to put Hornish in the car for Sunday’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Allmendinger decides to have a second urine sample tested to either confirm or disprove the first finding.